You’ve heard us say it before, but in Hollywood, it’s hard to get a job by simply submitting your resume through a job portal. In this competitive industry, you’ve got to take an extra step to get your resume into a real person’s hands. In fact, the majority of positions are filled through referrals, as hiring managers like to mitigate risk by hiring candidates who have been vetted by their contacts first. Even if you have great application materials, you’ll be at a disadvantage to those who've found an “in” at a company. So, how do you become the person with the “in”? Here are four strategies we’ve found effective:
1. Build your network. Regardless of whether or not there is an immediate position of interest, you should work to build your network to increase the chances that you will know someone who knows someone the day your dream job opens up. Request informational interviews, attend networking mixers, get in touch with your college alumni network, and build strong rapport with the people you currently work with, both in and outside of your organization. This piece is key to getting your resume into the hiring manager’s hands and will make your career easier in general. But onto more immediate strategies…
2. Tell your friends. If you are looking for a specific type of role, tell your friends that you are on the hunt. You never know when they’ll have heard of something that just popped up, and while it’s not always fun to talk shop with your friends, they are the ones who will look out for you. If you’re hunting for a new job, get in the habit of mentioning it in conversation.
3. Use LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the perfect resource for finding out who knows who at a particular company. If you haven’t cultivated a strong LinkedIn network, use the “People You May Know” tool to build up your connections to at least 500. This will increase your chances of having a second-degree connection with someone. It’s usually relatively easy to identify a hiring manager or member of the department with the open role on LinkedIn, and you can work from there to try to find someone who can refer you directly to the recruiter or hiring manager. If you don’t find a 100% clear cut connection but have a friend that might know someone at a company of interest, reach out and see if you can find some sort of path to send your resume down. And don’t stop at one person – if you find multiple ways into a company, leverage them. The more people advocating for you, the better. But if you really can’t find any connections to the company…
4. Try cold outreach. Cold outreach can be hit or miss, but it’s worth a shot if you’re applying for your dream job and don’t have other options. Just be strategic with who you are reaching out to – if you send a cold email to someone in the IT department and are looking for a development job, they don’t have much incentive to pass your resume along, even on the off chance that they did know the person hiring. In this case, you need to target recruiters or feel pretty confident that you know who you’d be reporting to. You can find email addresses or email formats through tracking boards or by googling “@companyname.com press release.” Just be very clear, professional, and polite in your email, and don’t get upset if you don’t hear back. Note that cold emails are rarely effective if there isn’t an available role.
Keep in mind that sometimes, these strategies won’t work. But you’ll find that you have a lot more success at securing interviews if you can take the extra step of getting your resume into a real person’s hands.
-- Angela Silak and Cindy Kaplan
When it comes to social media, LinkedIn is typically viewed as the go-to job search platform. And it's definitely a great resource! But it's not the only social platform you should be using. In Hollywood, Facebook is one of the most helpful tools for finding jobs, and more importantly, finding someone who has an in at the company that could get your resume into a real person’s hands.
Even if you've dropped off of Facebook in favor of trendier social platforms or because of concerns about their policies or social media overuse in general (for the record, it's totally fine to use social media however feels good to you in your personal life), we recommend keeping a Facebook profile for the purposes of networking and job searching (whether or not you are searching at this very moment). Here’s why:
Facebook groups are one of the best ways to learn about new opportunities. There are Facebook groups for just about every aspect of the entertainment industry, and you’ll probably fit into many of them! For the most part, these groups have replaced tracking boards as a source of information, including job postings. There are groups for all job types and levels (assistants, executives, writers, crew, producers, etc.), and if you just search your job title or the type of content you work on (or want to work on), you’ll surely find a group of peers that already has a conversation going around your line of work. You’ll likely have to share some credentials with the moderators to be accepted, but once you are in, you will see job postings come through frequently, often directly from the source!
Facebook groups make networking easy. The most active Facebook groups usually have multiple posts added per day, not just job postings. Often, people post to source a key piece of information or a contact, announce a big achievement, vent about an industry issue, or simply ask for advice. As a result, members have an opportunity to engage with each other in a very natural way. If you are in one of these groups, get active! Like and comment on posts, especially those where you feel you can offer support or advice. The more your name pops up in the group, the more of a reputation you will build for yourself as an informed member of the community. And this could lead to some offline relationships as well. But the nice thing about it is that you don’t have to get all dressed up and meet someone for drinks. It’s a way to stay on top of what’s going on, learn new things, and help out your peers, and this will only help you with your long term job prospects.
Facebook makes it easier to maintain professional relationships. Much like LinkedIn, it’s a good idea to friend your professional contacts on Facebook. But because people use Facebook differently than LinkedIn, Facebook provides an opportunity for you to get a glimpse of your contacts’ personal lives and connect on a separate level. The more you engage with the content they post (in a non-creepy, genuine way), the easier it will be to connect more overtly when you have business (like a referral for a job!) to discuss.
Facebook is a good platform for self-promotion. Your contacts are probably equally curious about what you're up to, and sharing your professional achievements on Facebook can be a great way to help them keep track of you! Plus, the platform is designed to promote major life events, like a new job. You can also share new project announcements, interviews, articles, and anything that features good news about you or your company. It gives people a reason to reach out to you and can keep you top of mind for a long-ago contact or friend who's hiring. This is a great way to get noticed for a job without even searching for openings yourself.
All of this said, if you want to use Facebook professionally, make sure your account looks professional, isn't too polarizing or political, and any photos are appropriate.
-- Angela Silak and Cindy Kaplan
Six ways to build your network
In Hollywood, your network is your key to success. The best way to find jobs is through referrals, and even once you're in a job, your network will help you generate new business. If you're worried you don't have a strong network, we have great news for you: Your network is bigger than you think it is, and growing it can even be fun! Here are six ways you can go about cultivating your network:
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
The holiday season is upon us (Happy Chanukah!), which means that between all the celebrations, gift giving, and good cheer, you have the perfect opportunity to check back in with your contacts. But how exactly should you go about doing that?
First, make a list. Check it twice. It should include all your contacts, from the external contacts you interact with regularly through work to the person you met for an informational interview months ago to the person you chatted with at a virtual mixer. Include notes about each person, like how you know them or how they might be connected to your dream company. It's best if you create this list over time and continually update it, but if you haven't started one, now is a good time!
Next, figure out how to reach out. If you have the bandwidth, you can email everyone on your list, but it's also totally okay if you triage it -- and when you do, you may decide that different people get a different form of outreach, or you may remove people from your list altogether. Some people opt to send a newsletter recapping their year, but we don't recommend this as a way to build strong connections. A mass email is a more effective strategy if you're sending out a note on behalf of your whole team, if you already regularly send out newsletters, or if you have a major project or life announcement. If you go this route, make sure you have permission to email your contacts in that manner, expect a decent number of "unsubscribes," and don't anticipate many notes back. Think of this more as a targeted social media post, and consider sharing your update on LinkedIn instead.
Another option is to send handwritten cards. Most people opt to do this for personal contacts but there may be some people on your list who fall in between personal and professional. This method is more about well-wishes than establishing a rapport, so don't expect this to spark a conversation with a contact you haven't chatted with in a while. But it is a nice gesture.
If you're looking for a more in-depth exchange, or even just open up communication channels, a personalized email is best. You want to keep this short and sweet. After the season's greetings, you can let them know what you're up to in 1-2 sentences, as candidly as your relationship allows (e.g. "I'm still looking to transition to a full-time role in development" or "I plan to start looking for a new role in 2022 and am hoping to land at a streaming service in the production department" or "Since we last spoke pre-pandemic, I wrapped production on the latest season of X and am gearing up for my next show in late January!"), and ask how things are going for them. You can also ask if they'd like to catch up in the new year, as long as you make sure not to overcommit yourself. Draft a new message for each contact and note the outreach on your handy-dandy list so that you're set up to track your network in 2022.
You don't have to email everyone all at once, either. Make a schedule for yourself (again, based on how you prioritize your list!) and start sending notes as early as the week leading up to Christmas break and as late as the first week back at work (that said, if you are hoping for a response, avoid sending your note the Friday before Christmas break). You may not get a response from every contact, but if you're genuine, polite, and professional, you'll get back on the radar and keep your network up to date.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
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